A festival of culture, art and heart
Inspired by sand, sport and shared values, Festival 2018 will leave footprints on the Gold Coast for years to come, according to two creatives behind the 12-day arts and culture festival.
And it will do it in true Gold Coast style.
“This is the only major arts festival in the world where you can see everything in your boardshorts,” Festival 2018 Creative Director Yaron Lifschitz told GC2018.com.
“Almost everything is free, everything is accessible, it’s a festival that wears its heart on its sleeve and has sand between its toes.
Lifschitz, Festival 2018 Creative Director Kate Fell and Bleach* Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina form the creative brain power behind the 12-day program of arts and cultural events at GC2018.
The program was revealed on Wednesday and was shaped by two key objectives.
“One is about extending the Games experience beyond the stadium, and that was our goal first and foremost,” said Fell.
“Giving people a really great, very vibrant 12-day festival where things are outside, at the beaches and parks and streets so you really feel that this city comes alive in those 12 days. That’s the absolute overarching thing.
“But equally for us, it was just as important for the city to feel that real transformation happen. That meant not just bringing in shows from overseas and putting them on a stage, but really investing in the local culture and artists and allowing a whole range of Gold Coast people to have that experience of being involved in work and creating it, participating and performing so that was really important as well.”
It’s a transformation the city is ready for, according to Lifschitz.
“I think this is a moment in the Gold Coast’s history that you will never forget,” he said.
“It needs its moment to say we can be more than just this, we have depth, we have talented people, we have ways of telling stories and creating art for us and with other people. I think that’s a really important part of evolution.
“I think the Games is one of those moments that can help transform the arts and cultural life of the city.”
Fell has worked in the arts and culture industry for over 15 years and has seen Queensland’s arts and cultural landscape evolve, particularly in the last five years.
A major sporting event like the Commonwealth Games provides a platform for sport and art to come together, a natural connection, Fell rationalised, but the sport’s influence on the performances on stage might not be what you expect.
“The City of Gold Coast and partners like Bleach* and the Arts Centre have done a really fantastic job of investing in artists so that they are ready for the Games and that’s been a really big change in the last three to five years, building that arts and cultural scene on the Gold Coast,” said Fell.
“You will have this very high energy circus physical theatre, dance, but I think for us, our focus wasn’t so much the connection between sport and art, it was the connection with the Commonwealth Games Federation and their values of humanity, equality and destiny.
“It’s about the meaning of cultures, bringing a whole lot of countries and cultures together, so that’s where we really focused rather than necessarily the straight, art meets sport connection.”
The festival has been programmed in the form of three acts: Encounters, Change and Aspire. The three themes are threaded through the program, which includes more than 1,000 performances from music to theatre, circus, dance, visual art and film.
The idea to deliver a festival in three acts was inspired by the relationship between sport and arts at the Commonwealth Games.
“We created a concept of a festival in three acts, and each act would reflect something that was incredibly important about the Games, the Commonwealth, about the philosophy and the thinking behind it.
“The first act is called Encounters and it’s a chance to meet the world and encounter different ways of being. I think that’s important because that’s exactly what happens at the Commonwealth Games, we bring the world to the City of Gold Coast and we meet them and they meet us,” explained Lifschitz.
“The second act is called Change and it’s about affecting positive global change. There are a lot of things in this world that could be better, LGBTQI law to climate change to indigenous relations and there’s a great many things that can be reflected on, debated, discussed and improved and that was part of the focus for change.
“And finally there’s Aspire which is about lifting our eyes above the everyday and seeing what we might become.”
It’s ‘what we might become’ that has most excited the team behind Festival 2018, and the effect the Games will have on the Gold Coast.
As well as providing opportunities for local artists to develop, Fell hopes the festival will leave an impression on everyone who is part of it in April.
“I just really hope that people see something that they’ve never seen before and in that experience, that is quite a life-altering moment,” Fell said.
“There’s that experience that great art does, which makes you feel something, makes you think about something, and hopefully makes you act in a different way once you’ve seen that. So that’s what I would love. Even just one moment in those 12 days that people have that moment.”